Ice-skating has a long history in the Netherlands, and there is no child in this country who didn’t grow up learning how to skate! Of course this would happen the old-fashioned way: on ‘botjes’ (double-bladed skates) and holding on to a chair to remain balanced.
Traditionally, children living alongside the many rivers or canals in the Netherlands would be very pleased when they could skate to school instead of walk — it would save a lot of time! (And, of course, not everybody owned a bike like in modern times!) Their parents would strap on their wooden skates with leather thongs and skate for miles to go and see family they hadn’t seen in months.
On weekends big tours would be organized, and alongside the canal one could find little stands selling ‘koek en zopie’ — cookies and hot chocolate (or gin for the dads). After the tour, the family would come home to a big pan of ‘snert’, the traditional Dutch pea-soup…
It’s been a while since it has frozen in the Netherlands, at least enough for all the natural waterways to freeze. In fact, the last ‘Elfstedentocht’ (Eleven Cities Tour), an ice-skating race that takes place in the north of the Netherlands and keeps every Dutchmen captivated as soon as the temperature drops under zero, was in 1997!
Thankfully every city in the Netherlands will make sure there is an artificial ice-skating rink in their centre. And in Amsterdam there will be five!
– Skating Rink Museumplein: 17 December 2008 – 22 February 2009, open daily from 10 am until 8 pm. My absolute favourite Skating Rink, to be found at the foot of the wonderful Rijksmuseum!
– Skating Rink Beursplein: 11 November 2008 – 4 January 2009
Not far from the central train station. There will also be a little Christmas market!
– Skating Rink Leidseplein: 1 November 2008 – 11 January 2009, open daily from 10:00 to 23:00. Not far from the Vondelpark. Set up in the middle of the cafés and restaurants of the Leidseplein.
– Skating Rink Wittenburgerplein: 6 December 2008 – 19 December 2008, open daily from 11 am until 4 pm.
Near to Amsterdam’s lovely city zoo, Artis.
– Skating Rink Westergasfabriek: 5 December 2008 – 4 January 2009
West of the city centre. There are loads of other wonderful activities in the Westergasfabriek area!
Well, we say: when in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch. So take your children for a skate on one of the many skating rinks (but don’t be afraid to show off your own skills as well)! Skates are for rent at the rinks.
[…] Ice-skating is something of a national sport in the Netherlands, especially in winters where we’re lucky enough to have temperatures so low the many natural waterways in the city and countryside are frozen. Last week was such a lucky week, and children and parents alike put on their skates and hit the ice. Even the canals in the city centre here in Amsterdam were frozen, which is pretty rare! After some initial hesitation on whether or not to get the kids their own skates (after all, you never know how much they will be put to use) we did give in to the temptation. Especially after I found out that skates these days are expandable! Sara’s pair for instance is size 32-36, which means she will be able to wear them for years to come. (We got their skates at Decathlon.) It’s amazing how fast they pick up the skill, and how they love the activity. Fun, fun, fun! […]